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Saturday 11 April 2020

Celebration of the Word of God

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In the current COVID-19 pandemic, many Catholics are unable to participate in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration.  This resource is provided so that families and individuals can observe and celebrate Sunday in their homes. It is adapted from, and based on, Celebrations of the Word of God that may be celebrated on Sundays in parishes when a priest is not present to lead the celebration of Mass.

Before the celebration, choose a space for prayer together in the home. You may wish to prepare a focus for prayer, with a lit candle and cross. You could also decorate this focus with white and/or gold cloth if you have any, to reflect the seasonal colour and the joy of this solemn occasion.

If several people will pray together, choose who will be the leader of the celebration.  Other people should be chosen to read the readings and the intercessions. If you are on your own, you may omit the parts that would only apply to a group setting (eg responses).

Those who participate in this celebration would not need to participate in a celebration the next day (Easter Sunday).

The Introductory Rites

Greeting

Leader:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All:

Amen.

Leader:

Blessed be God, whose love is stronger than death.

All:

Blessed be God for ever.

The Liturgy of the Word

As with the Easter Vigil in churches on this night, the Liturgy of the Word takes an extended form. Three of the seven Old Testament readings for this night are provided here with their psalms and prayers, in keeping with what is allowed for in the Missal.

First Reading

Reader:

A reading from the book of Genesis

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God’s spirit hovered over the water.

God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. God called light ‘day’, and darkness he called ‘night’. Evening came and morning came: the first day.

God said, ‘Let there be a vault in the waters to divide the waters in two.’ And so it was. God made the vault, and it divided the waters above the vault from the waters under the vault. God called the vault ‘heaven’. Evening came and morning came: the second day.

God said, ‘Let the waters under heaven come together into a single mass, and let dry land appear.’ And so it was. God called the dry land ‘earth’ and the mass of waters ‘seas’, and God saw that it was good.

God said, ‘Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees bearing fruit with their seed inside, on the earth.’ And so it was. The earth produced vegetation: plants bearing seed in their several kinds, and trees bearing fruit with their seed inside in their several kinds. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came; the third day.

God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.’ And so it was. God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars. God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth, to govern the day and the night and to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good. Evening came and morning came: the fourth day.

God said, ‘Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth within the vault of heaven.’ And so it was. God created great sea-serpents and every kind of living creature with which the waters teem, and every kind of winged creature. God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas; and let the birds multiply upon the earth.’ Evening came and morning came: the fifth day.

God said, ‘Let the earth produce every kind of living creature: cattle, reptiles, and every kind of wild beast.’ And so it was. God made every kind of wild beast, every kind of cattle, and every kind of land reptile. God saw that it was good.

God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth.’

God created man in the image of himself,

     in the image of God he created him,
     male and female he created them.

God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I give you all the seed-bearing plants; this shall be your food. To all wild beasts, all birds of heaven and all living reptiles on the earth I give all the foliage of plants for food.’ And so it was. God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day.

Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing.

The word of the Lord.

All:

Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Someone praying on their own may read the psalm from beginning to end, without the response in between each stanza.

℟ Lord, send out your Spirit,
and renew the face of the earth.

Bless the Lord, my soul!
Lord God, how great you are,
clothed in majesty and glory,
wrapped in light as in a robe! ℟

You founded the earth on its base,
to stand firm from age to age.
You wrapped it with the ocean like a cloak:
the waters stood higher than the mountains. ℟

You make springs gush forth in the valleys:
they flow in between the hills.
On their banks dwell the birds of heaven;
from the branches they sing their song. ℟

From your dwelling you water the hills;
earth drinks its fill of your gift.
You make the grass grow for the cattle
and the plants to serve man’s needs. ℟

How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.
Bless the Lord, my soul! ℟

Prayer

Leader:

Let us pray.

Pause for silent prayer

Almighty ever-living God,
sole hope of the world,
who by the preaching of your Prophets
unveiled the mysteries of this present age,
graciously increase the longing of your people,
for only at the prompting of your grace
do the faithful progress in any kind of virtue.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Third Reading

Reader:

A reading from the book of Exodus

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me so? Tell the sons of Israel to march on. For yourself, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and part it for the sons of Israel to walk through the sea on dry ground. I for my part will make the heart of the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them. So shall I win myself glory at the expense of Pharaoh, of all his army, his chariots, his horsemen. And when I have won glory for myself, at the expense of Pharaoh and his chariots and his army, the Egyptians will learn that I am the Lord.’

Then the angel of the Lord, who marched at the front of the army of Israel, changed station and moved to their rear. The pillar of cloud changed station from the front to the rear of them, and remained there. It came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. The cloud was dark, and the night passed without the armies drawing any closer the whole night long. Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove back the sea with a strong easterly wind all night, and he made dry land of the sea. The waters parted and the sons of Israel went on dry ground right into the sea, walls of water to right and to left of them. The Egyptians gave chase: after them they went, right into the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen. In the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians from the pillar of fire and of cloud, and threw the army into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could scarcely make headway. ‘Let us flee from the Israelites,’ the Egyptians cried, ‘the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians!’ ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘that the waters may flow back on the Egyptians and their chariots and their horsemen.’ Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them. That day, the Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. Israel witnessed the great act that the Lord had performed against the Egyptians, and the people venerated the Lord; they put their faith in the Lord and in Moses, his servant.

It was then that Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song in honour of the Lord:

“The word of the Lord” is not said; instead continue immediately with the responsorial psalm.

Responsorial Psalm

Someone praying on their own may read the psalm from beginning to end, without the response in between each stanza.

℟ Let us sing to the Lord;
he has covered himself in glory.

I will sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!
Horse and rider has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength, my song, my salvation.
this is my God and I extol him,
my father’s God and I give him praise. ℟

The Lord is a warrior! The Lord is his name.
The chariots of Pharaoh he hurled into the sea,
the flower of his army is drowned in the sea.
The deeps hide them; they sank like a stone. ℟

Your right hand, Lord, glorious in its power,
your right hand, Lord, has shattered the enemy.
In the greatness of your glory you crushed the foe. ℟

You will lead your people and plant them on your mountain,
the place, O Lord, where you have made your home,
the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have made.
The Lord will reign for ever and ever. ℟

Prayer

Leader:

Let us pray.

Pause for silent prayer

O God, who by the light of the New Testament
have unlocked the meaning
of wonders worked in former times,
so that the Red Sea prefigures the sacred font
and the nation delivered from slavery
foreshadows the Christian people,
grant, we pray, that all nations,
obtaining the privilege of Israel by merit of faith,
may be reborn by partaking of your Spirit.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Fifth Reading

Reader:

A reading from the prophet Isaiah

Thus says the Lord:

Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty;
though you have no money, come!
Buy corn without money, and eat,
and, at no cost, wine and milk.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
your wages on what fails to satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat
and rich food to enjoy.
Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live.
With you I will make an everlasting covenant
out of the favours promised to David.
See, I have made of you a witness to the peoples,
a leader and a master of the nations.
See, you will summon a nation you never knew,
those unknown will come hurrying to you,
for the sake of the Lord your God,
of the Holy One of Israel who will glorify you.
Seek the Lord while he is still to be found,
call to him while he is still near.
Let the wicked man abandon his way,
the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn back to the Lord who will take pity on him,
to our God who is rich in forgiving;
for my thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is the Lord who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.

Yes, as the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.

The word of the Lord.

All:

Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Someone praying on their own may read the psalm from beginning to end, without the response in between each stanza.

℟ You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Truly God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation. ℟

Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples,
declare the greatness of his name. ℟

Sing a psalm to the Lord
for he has done glorious deeds,
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. ℟

Prayer

Leader:

Let us pray.

Pause for silent prayer

Almighty ever-living God,
sole hope of the world,
who by the preaching of your Prophets
unveiled the mysteries of this present age,
graciously increase the longing of your people,
for only at the prompting of your grace
do the faithful progress in any kind of virtue.
Through Christ our Lord.

All:

Amen.

Epistle Reading

Reader:

A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Romans

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.

If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection. We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin. When a man dies, of course, he has finished with sin.

But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

The word of the Lord.

All:

Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Someone praying on their own may read the psalm from beginning to end, without the response in between each stanza.

Try to sing the response (Alleluia) to a simple tune known to all.

℟ Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’ ℟

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds. ℟

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes. ℟

Gospel

Reader:

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

After the sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre. And all at once there was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. His face was like lightning, his robe white as snow. The guards were so shaken, so frightened of him, that they were like dead men. But the angel spoke, and he said to the women, ‘There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would. Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples. “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” Now I have told you.’ Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’

The Gospel of the Lord.

All:

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Homily or Silent Reflection on the Readings

You may choose to watch the homily video, or use the question below to as a guide for your own silent reflection.

Across the fifty days of Easter that this holy night opens us to us, we will hear constant reminders to not be afraid. Our salvation history, recalled in these scripture texts, is one of God’s love and power conquering darkness and despair.
How can our Easter faith, hope and joy break through the darkness and despair that hangs over our world right now?

Profession of Faith

Leader:

Through Jesus’ death and resurrection
we have died to sin in baptism and risen to new life.
Now that we have completed our Lenten observance,
let us profess our faith of our baptism on this most holy night,
United with the Church throughout the world.

All:

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

Prayer of the Faithful

Leader:

We have listened to God’s word.
Moved by that word,
let us pray to God for our needs and the needs of the world.

Reader:

For the Church.
May we be renewed in grace on this most blessed of days.
Risen Lord, hear us.

All:

Lord, hear our prayer.

Reader:

For political leaders and public health authorities.
May they make wise decisions for the good of all,
and work to maintain calm in these times of uncertainty.
Risen Lord, hear us. ℟

For the newly baptised.
May their faith shine forth as a sign of hope,
and may they always be blessed with God’s peace.
Risen Lord, hear us. ℟

For our parish community.
May the joy of this night overflow in acts of love
towards all we encounter in our daily lives.
Risen Lord, hear us. ℟

For those who are sick,
especially those diagnosed with COVID-19.
May they be comforted and strengthened by Christ,
who shared and conquered our human suffering.
Risen Lord, hear us. ℟

For those who have died,
May those who have imitated Christ’s death
also share in his resurrection.
Risen Lord, hear us. ℟

Leader: God of compassion,
by your Son’s cross and resurrection, you have set us free.
Fill our hearts with Easter joy,
so that we may be true to our baptism
and give witness to the power of Christ’s love.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

All:

Amen.

Proclamation of Praise

Leader:

Christ has conquered death and opened for us the way to eternal life,
so let us give praise to God.

Everyone prays the Gloria in excelsis together.

All:

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Leader:

Let us pray the words that Jesus taught us.

All:

Our Father…

Concluding Prayer

Leader:

On this day, Lord God,
you opened for us the way to eternal life
through your only Son’s victory over death.
Grant that as we celebrate the feast of his resurrection
we may be renewed by your Holy Spirit
and rise again in the light of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

All:

Amen.

The Concluding Rites

Blessing and Dismissal

All make the Sign of the Cross as the leader says:

Leader:

May God fill us with faith, hope and love,
both now and forever.

All:

Amen.

Leader:

Let us praise the Lord, alleluia, alleluia.

All:

Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia.

Concluding Song

If you have internet access, you may choose to play a recording of Jesus Christ is risen today:


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This celebration is based on the Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, Congregation for Divine Worship, 1988; and Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest: Directives for the Dioceses of Australia, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 2004. In Pastoral Handbook for the Dioceses of Australia: Sunday Celebration of the Word, Sunday Celebration of the Hours, © National Liturgical Commission (Australia), 2004, published by The Liturgical Commission, Brisbane.

Excerpts of the English Translation of The Roman Missal, © 2010, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

Excerpts of the English Translation of The Divine Office, © 1974 the hierarchies of Australia, England and Wales, Ireland.

Readings from the Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967, 1968, Darton Longman and Todd Ltd. Respsonsorial Psalm texts from The Psalms: A New Translation © 1963, The Grail (England).

Psalm texts used in the Proclamation of Praise from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.

Other texts, homily video and graphics (except where otherwise indicated) produced by Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Wentworthville for prayer at home during the period of time that Masses are suspended and/or Sunday obligation is dispensed in the Diocese of Parramatta due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resource can be used for personal, non-profit use, and only for its intended purpose.